One of the critical health care-related issues facing the United States is how to find not just enough physicians and other health care workers to meet current demand for care, but to create a system that contains the right mix of health care professionals to maximize access, manage costs, and maintain quality of care in the future. Such health care workforce considerations are being brought into sharper relief through the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Will there be enough doctors to treat an aging population and to meet the greater demand for care posed by the ACA's increase in the insured population? Will the health care demands of current armed-services members and veterans be met? What changes need to be made in how physicians and other health care providers are educated and trained to help adapt to a changing health care landscape? Will new models of care delivery offer solutions to workforce challenges, and if so, what changes to laws and regulations need to be made to take advantage of these solutions? These are critical questions with far-reaching consequences.
In “Redesigning the Health Care Workforce,” a new special issue of the journal Health Affairs, RAND researchers contribute to several timely examinations of challenges, opportunities, and potential solutions relating to the future of health care staffing in the U.S. and abroad.
Primary Care Technicians: A Solution To The Primary Care Workforce Gap — Arthur L. Kellermann and John W. Saultz, along with RAND's Ateev Mehrotra and Spencer S. Jones, explore a potentially promising solution to physician shortages adapted from emergency medical services, the primary care technician.
Policy Solutions To Address The Foreign-Educated And Foreign-Born Health Care Workforce In The United States — RAND's Peggy G. Chen and David I. Auerbach, along with Ulrike Muench, Leslie A. Curry, and Elizabeth H. Bradley, examine the effects of health care worker immigration to the United States, as well as potential solutions to the pressures that result domestically and abroad as a result of such immigration.
Nurse-Managed Health Centers And Patient-Centered Medical Homes Could Mitigate Expected Primary Care Physician Shortage — RAND's Auerbach, Chen, Mark Friedberg, Mehrotra, and Christopher Lau, and colleagues Rachel Reid and Peter I. Buerhaus detail how two new models of care delivery being piloted under the ACA, nurse-managed centers and patient-centered medical homes, could help avoid expected primary care provider shortages.
US Military Primary Care: Problems, Solutions, And Implications For Civilian Medicine — Benjamin F. Mundell and William C. Mundell, along with RAND's Friedberg and Christine Eibner consider whether new models of care being tested in the military health system hold lessons for non-military health.
— Nishith Nalin Bhatt